Monday, February 9, 2015

Burning River for Ben: Passion and Commitment

The Weekly Gathering of the CRUD
For Another Fun Run in the Mountains
 One of the things I love about training for an ultra be it a 24 hour mountain bike race, a 100 mile run, or any other ultra-endurance event is the training. Maybe I should call it playing instead of training, because that is really what it is to me. I know this sounds weird but I love getting up in the morning and dealing with whatever weather happens to greet me. I love running/riding in the snow, cold, heat, sunrise, mornings, afternoons, I love it all. I love weather, which is why I didn’t move to Southern California when I had the opportunity. I think to really appreciate summer you’ve got to have winter and vice versa. I love running and riding alone as well as with friends who are just as passionate for being in nature and pushing themselves  as hard and far as they can go.

Matt's Definitely Loving It!
This year Jeff Mulder, Matt Larsen, and I have committed to running 100 miles on July 25 - in Ohio of all places. The comradery has been awesome and every time we run together the miles seem effortless. Tania Ellsworth Smith, another passionate ultra-runner, cancer survivor, and friend, wrote a very moving piece on commitment . Which is what inspired me to write this.

Jeff Mulder - Making the Commitment!
Turn-around point of 18 Mile Run
Max's Enthusiasm is always a Great Motivator
I think she hit it right on the nose. I also believe the moment you truly commit to something is the moment that all the hard work, the early mornings, and the innumerable challenges become fun instead of tedious. In 2009 I committed to competing and winning the Leadman competition. That was truly an amazing year. The commitment to accomplish that goal was so intense that it never seemed like work, just pure joy. To this day I can look back at that year and feel that incredible sense of true commitment to a goal and the joy that went with it. It’s a great feeling! This year I’m  having those same feelings about the Burning River 100. 

Matt and Jeff Heading Home from Another Long Run
Another aspect that makes the Burning River even more exciting is our commitment to raising money to help the kids and families being served by the Akron Children’s Hospital Cancer Treatment Center.  We are committed to helping these kids and if we can do it by raising money and awareness through something we love then I feel this is truly a win-win opportunity. We’ve committed to raising $10,000 by race day in July. It’s a huge commitment, but so is running 100 miles and we're committed to both. So if  you’d like to join our cause there are a lot of kids that will truly benefit. Just $20 more and we’ll have already surpassed our first milestone of $500! Helping out is easy just press this link. And remember every bit no matter how little adds up. Thank you so much! 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Burning River for Ben: Super Half Marathon

Every year in Colorado Springs, on Super Bowl Sunday, the Pikes Peak Road Runners put on the Super Half Marathon and 5k. It has grown steadily each year setting a record of over 1,100 runners this year. I’ve never done this race and this year I decided it would be a milestone marker to begin specific training for the Burning River 100. Up to this point I have been getting back into the habit of running after a year of mountain bike racing, steadily building the miles but continuing to ride my bike and workout at the gym. From the Super Half to Burning River is exactly six months, a good time to start specific Burning River training.

I went to the Super Half with no expectations other than to run a smart race. It’s and out and back course along the Santa Fe Trail, slightly uphill on the way out and slightly downhill on the way back. My plan was to go out relaxed and keep the pace relatively easy then run a faster second half.  Problem is I didn’t stick to the plan.

Dave, Cristina, Roswitha, and Terry all smiles before the start.
Cristina, Larry, and Terry ran the 1/2 Marathon and Roswitha ran the 5K
From the start I was with a group that hit the 1st mile at 6:51… Ouch! Most of my running for the last four months has been 10:00 min per mile and slower. This was way too fast! But it felt easy and comfortable. I slowed down to what I thought was significant and the next mile was 7:01. I got into a pack of about five and we knocked out three 7:02 miles in a row. I felt relaxed but wondered if I could keep this pace for 13 miles. At mile six one guy surged and for some reason I went with him. We knocked out two 6:58 miles and then he pulled away. This is where things started falling apart. As he pulled away I could feel my hamstrings begin to tighten like banjo strings. I was sure I was going to cramp or pull a muscle. I shortened my stride and tried my best to relax. We were just over half way and I was tying up all over. My pace slowed and every time I tried to push it, I would tie up even more and slow even more.  I had arguments with myself; one side was saying "think only positive thoughts, focus on staying relaxed", the other side was saying "you idiot why did you go out so fast, why did you work out at the gym yesterday, man my hamstrings are going to snap, I feel like I’m running backwards so many people are passing me". No matter what I thought I was slowing down; 7:06, 7:11, 7:17, 7:19, 7:20, and finally I was able to shut my mind off and run the last mile in 7:16.

I finished a bit upset with myself for running such a stupid race and having such negative thoughts. The second half should have been faster; it was downhill. I felt like I was running backwards and a million people passed me. (Turns out only four passed as I dropped from 37th to 41st overall from the turn-around point). Roswitha kept saying that she was sure I won my age group because she didn’t see any old guys come in. I was sure I wasn’t even in the top five. Turns out that somehow I not only won the old farts category but set an age group course record in the process... That was a surprise.

I left everything out on the course

Never -EVER thought I would own a trophy with a football on it!
So I planned on starting in earnest training for the Burning River 100 this week. Problem was that pace left me so sore I couldn’t do much more than hobble the next couple days. By Wednesday I was feeling good but had a 7:00 AM meeting at work. Normally I get up at 4:00 or 4:30 AM to run 1 to 2 hours before work then ride my bike 45 – 50 min to work, then shower and be at my desk between 7:30 and 8:00. For this meeting I got up at 3:30 cut my run a bit short and took a shorter route to work. The meeting was cancelled. No big deal I slept very well that night.

Training is now real, six months to the start. And please remember I am working with a group to raise money for the Children’s Cancer Ward at the Akron Children’s Hospital. They serve cancer stricken children from all over the country and do an incredible job. Every dollar helps make this very rough time just a little more tolerable for these kids and their families. We've created a tax -exempt non-profit and we are dedicating our 100 mile race to an incredibly brave young man named Ben. Ben picked this organization because they do so much for the kids. All donations will be in his honor. Please donate if you feel it in you at BurningRiverForBen. Thanks!